We have previously looked at the different routes into teaching, which typically take 1 academic year to complete through the PGCE or School Direct. There is a fast track to gaining qualified teacher status (QTS) via the assessment only route that takes a maximum of 12 weeks. This article has a look at who could be suitable for this route and why we have found that it is not used as often as it could be.
Am I eligible for Assessment Only QTS?
To achieve this fast track teaching qualification you must already be able to demonstrate that you meet the QTS standards. The Assessment Only route is not a teacher training programme; applicants must have enough experience as an unqualified teacher to be at the required standard.
There is no fixed time that you need to have worked as an unqualified teacher although government guidance suggests that teachers without two years prior teaching experience might not be suitable. You must have taught in at least two schools. Assessment only is a suitable route to QTS for overseas trained teachers and has replaced the Overseas Trained Teacher programme (OTTP).
As with all routes to QTS, applicants must have a degree to be eligible for Assessment Only as well as other entry criteria. If you are looking to gain a teaching qualification without a degree then this route is not suitable even if you fit the other criteria.
When applying for QTS via assessment only you must be in a school or education centre that is willing to support you during the process.
The process for gaining QTS via Assessment Only
Once you are in a school that is willing to support you for achieving QTS then you should apply to an approved provider. Processes vary slightly between providers; applicants typically have an initial assessment to confirm they are at the required level to meet the Teachers’ Standards without further training.
The process is then based on a combination of prior experience presented as a portfolio of evidence and then verification that you continue to meet the QTS Standards via lesson observations. This is done over 2 half terms and will take no longer than 12 weeks from the start of the process.
How much does the Assessment Only QTS cost?
With most providers the full cost of the Assessment Only route to QTS is £2500. This is what we have found to be the main stumbling block. There is no funding available for gaining QTS via this route; the teacher, the school or a combination of both will have to pay the fee.
With the teacher shortage schools are willing to take on unqualified teachers when they have shown via lesson observation that they can meet the QTS standards. We have found that often they agree to support and fund the teacher to gain the QTS but a year or two years later it still hasn’t been started and the teacher remains unqualified.
Unqualified teachers who are teaching at the required QTS standard need to be aware of this fast track teaching qualification that can achieve full qualification in less than 1 term. This will greatly increase opportunities for permanent employment and higher salaries. When approaching your current school or seeking a new school to initiate the process you need to be clear about the cost and how it will be funded. Once this is decided then often schools have an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) provider that they use for School Direct, which will be able to do the Assessment Only process for you. If they don’t then you should initiate via an approved provider.